Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Showmance Finale





I trotted down the stairs of my railroad flat on Guerrero to let Jack in. He was breathless and excited coming in from the night. He carried a large paper grocery bag filled with clothing and a boom box. Since he had been in my apartment before, he zipped by me, navigating the familiar cluttered stairs with ease, and up to the landing but stopped and set his items down at the top of the stairs and said, “Whoa!” and zipped back down to scoop me up and bury his nose in my neck. “Damn!” he said as he pulled back. “ You smell deeeeeelicious!” True I did at that. I had showered with Mango scented soap and perfumed with Vanilla cologne. I knew he had a sweet tooth. He smelled like...well..how a boy smelled; kinda sweaty but not too bad, and cookies, and coffee...that he had eaten- I guess- at the Cafe. Tonight’s seduction had the potential of being like shooting fish in a barrel. Then again-maybe he was one of these self-actualized straight men that had zero hang ups? I thought about it. Naw!

“What’s in the bag?” I pushed it slightly with my toe. He grinned his enormously tooth-filled grin and grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me down the hall into the dining room/living room. He pulled clothing out and several sheets of paper with writing on them. He carefully laid out each item on the couch. There was a baseball cap, a white crew neck t-shirt, a pair of black Converse high tops, a pair of denim board shorts with a design on them that looked like graffiti-and lastly a pack of cigarettes. “ Please put this on.” he asked.

“What?” I was thrown. “Why?”

“It’s the outfit you wore when we were first fell in love-well when Austin met Ralph and fell in love. See! I wrote it all down here. Go ahead and read it and we can re-enact it to help with our sense memory.” I scanned the pages he handed to me. He had penned a very detailed account of our two characters attending a dance party in Central Park on Gay Pride in New York City. They met and started dancing to a song by The Cure called simply “Love Song” ...which he had brought a cassette tape of. (Hey it was the early 90’s)

“Whenever I’m alone with you...you make me feel like I am whole again”  I looked at him as he hummed it. He came up real close and said softly, “ Will you please put the clothes on?” He kind of hypnotized me with his big chocolatey pools fringed with long lashes. I dazedly wandered into my bed room to change. I was still a little inebriated but not at the slurring or stumbling point but that could easily change with one tiny swig. The toughest part was the high tops. I never wore sneakers like that so they felt peculiar and I thought I was going to trip over my feet as I returned to the dining room/living room. I don’t think I looked particular sexy.

He lit up when I arrived. He had changed too! Into a pair of jeans that hung seductively off his hips and a wife beater that hugged every curve of perfectly sculpted, taut swimmer’s frame. I looked at his muscular arms, chest and shoulders and had an awful lot of trouble trying to string two words together in my mind. His shiny jet black hair hung loosely around his brow. I tried to look at his eyes, but kept drifting back to his nipples as they poked out happily against the ribbed fabric of the tank top. He smiled and said, “Ready?” Some common sense reached out to me from this bubbling cauldron of desire I was turning into. “ I dunno Jack...I’ve been drinking. I just don’t want to...make a mistake.” He looked surprised. It was pretty obvious I was afraid of falling hopelessly in love with him but I caught myself. “ I mean...isn’t it a threat to your sobriety? Being around someone else who is intoxicated?”

“-Hey!”  he said and placed a forefinger against my lips to shush me. Wait .a thought flashed in my brain..didn’t straight boys always have a problem remembering to wash their hands after they went to the bathroom? I pulled his finger away from my lips. He said, “ Let me worry about that P.A. You are not responsible for my actions.” hmph How very AA. I reached for my Bloody Screw. “You’re telling me this is okay?” as I took that fatal swig, stuffing any common sense I had in me so far down that it had a snowball’s chance in HADES of ever surfacing during the remainder of the night. He leaned forward and didn’t sniff the glass but sniffed my lips instead, narrowly brushing them with his own as he did this. “MMMM!” he murmured. A light smile danced on his sensuous mouth. “ Vodka! very nice! You can relax..I was always a Whiskey and Bourbon guy” I laughed an absurdly sounding giggle. OF COURSE he was a Whiskey and Bourbon guy...that made ALLL of this Okay!!!

He reviewed the scenario. “ Okay. Gay Pride. A beautiful sunny slightly cloudy day in Central Park. We bumped into each other while we were at the beer booth with friends but just cruised each other first”

“Who taught you ‘cruised’??”

“Al Pacino” he shot back at me. “ Wait! We almost forgot the rest of your look.”  He put the baseball cap on me backwards and took the pack of cigarettes and rolled them up into my left sleeve and then proceeded to roll up my right sleeve. “Sheesh” I said, “Such details!”

“ It’s important to me.”

“ okay okay-relax” When his brows went up like a disappointed Labrador I had to give in. He put the cassette in the boom box and pressed play. When he bent over to do that he showed a slightly fuzzy plumber’s crack. I felt my Mr. Happy jump in my shorts. The music started to play and I heard the singers sultry promises of love. He swayed and I shuffled my feet around, trying not to trip on the sneakers. He looked at me after disengaging from some ecstasy that the music transported him to and his face was different. He looked hungry and it was kind of scary in a way. He held his hand out to me. I wavered but took it. He slowly reeled me in holding me close to him while our hips swayed to the music. Our noses were beginning to touch and ever so gently our bottom lips brushed together. I got brave and reached up and caressed his unshaven cheek. He held my hand and kissed my palm. I fell into those huge brown eyes -and I was the hungry one. I just kissed him firmly, holding the back of his head  and he slowly yielded his mouth to my tongue and let out a little moan. “ Wow” he whispered, “Kissing a guy is so different!” Mr. Happy was unabashedly throbbing in my pants. Jack grinned and traced the outline of my cock through my shorts and let out another soft, “Wow!” I thought it was pretty amazing that he found kissing me a unique experience because -quite frankly- kissing him was different then kissing other men. He was gentle like a tentative but cooperative young girl (with stubble) about to lose her virginity. I know I know - How the hell would PA know what THAT feels like?? Don’t worry - we will save that story for another blog. - Back to Jack

We tumbled on to the couch and fumbled with clothing and kissing and licking. He was clearly having a great time. I, on the other hand, was falling in love HARD!!! That mixed with my sexual drive was making me unstoppable. I was determined that we were going to do everything before the night was over...then maybe take a nap and do it again. I nibbled, I licked, I squeezed and dry humped and soon we were naked and headed down to my bedroom.  I looked upward and thanked God that my room mate was out for the evening and flung him on to the Futon. “Man you are forceful!!! Are all guys as hardcore as you are?” I resisted the impulse to yip with laughter and said, “Well with most women...not all..they don’t like it rough.” Another absurd thought that I was an authority on sex with women as a 27 homosexual. I continued, “ Guys think about sex way more and are so horny so ...you can be a little rougher with each other. Women are more intellectual about sex..but It doesn’t mean you can’t be tender too. “ I leaned down to demonstrate and he interrupted asking me, “ Hey - can I suck your cock?”

“Um sure...go for it.”

He grasped me and proceeded to mouth and suck it. It was a little clumsy but pleasurable -I told him how to watch his teeth by folding your lips over them. He did this for a total of 3 minutes and then spit  and went “Yuk! I don’t like giving head. - Hey...will you fuck me? But start slow okay? My girlfriend always starts slow and then I can take it as hard as you want.”

Wait...back that up...” Girlfriend!!!?” I squawked.

“yup..she’s not a he/she or anything. She does it with a dildo.” I almost lost my hard on hearing that but then he saw what was happening and started kissing me very very passionately and I was good to go again. He got on his hands and knees to assume the position- Alrighty THEN! I slipped on the condom from the large box under my bed and lathered it with lubricant and proceeded to prep Jack using my fingers and extra dollops of lube.

He squeaked, “ hey it’s cold!”

“Sorry, I’ll warm it up for you” and gave him a quasi prostate massage that made him whimper and groan.  -I was a tad nervous about what a straight guy’s version of deep “before sex” cleaning would be, but Jack seemed to be prepared for deep investigation. That porn star girlfriend of his taught him well. I prepared to enter and slipped just the tip in. Here’s when I have to tell you that I am as averagely endowed as average can be. No Pornstar career for me. Nude scenes on stage freak me out because Mr. Happy is quite shy. The last play I did nude, I am sure the audience wondered if I even HAD a penis. Remembering my lines and getting semi-erect on stage is difficult for me, and if there is a draft from off stage -well... forget it.  However one on one, when Mr. Happy is genuinely Happy...he shows it and gets the job done. At the time Mr. Happy was Happy with what Jack presented to him but, I only managed to insert the tip in when Jack let out a incredibly LOUD caterwaul that the whole building heard I am sure. Its not like the tip of my penis is a beer can, and I entered as gently as I could. He shook the hell out of my futon. I thought he might’ve been having a stroke.. but he was apparently experiencing an orgasm. “Um....you okay...? “ ,I asked.

He flipped over on his back and panted.. “ Oh...MY...God!” he gasped. “That was fucking amazing!!!”

“Really?” I was bewildered as to how he could’ve attained orgasm from what I did. I was on my knees to his right while Mr. Happy strained to go back to the nice warm place he just tried to slide into. I peeled off the condom and Jack looked over at Mr. Happy and pursed his lips and looked uncomfortable. “ Um...You want help to...?” he gestured at his wet stomach. I lay next to him and instructed him to kiss me. He did as he was told while I took care of Mr. Happy with Mr. Handy. His passion and excitement had cooled considerably and his kisses were even more passive than before. I felt him trying to focus on the task at hand. Eventually Mr. Handy did the job and that seemed to fascinate Jack for it’s duration. Then he grabbed the towel and hopped off the bed.  “That was fun eh?”

Well - the end of the evening was about as cliche as cliche could be. I was left amazed and wondered what the hell just happened to me. Jack called out as he merrily dashed down the stairs. “ THANKS PA! The scene’s gonna be GREAT!”

 I put on my robe and poured another drink. What the hell was he talking about? Our character’s never do anything remotely loving or sexual on stage. He’s sweet and good looking and my character is a one dimensional nasty bitch to him until the bitter end. Why did he need to...? Oh well. I ended up pining after him hoping for another encounter after rehearsals or performances but he wasn’t remotely interested. Which infuriated me and there was absolutely no reason for me to “act” when it came to being cruel to his character on stage..hey!.... wait just a darn minute!!!! No wonder Kate Bornstein, (famous tranny writer/performer who reviewed the play for the Bay Area Reporter), wrote about me. “ I hope P.A. Cooley really isn’t that way!”

I was a real bitch...and it made me a star.

 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Show-mance part 3

Show Mance part 3

As the play “Earl, Ollie, Austin and Ralph” progressed, it marked the beginning of a very long practice of my dual life as actor by night and ordinary job holder by day.  At that time I worked as a sales clerk for a little shop called, “Porter’s Fine Food and Epicurean.”  It was located near  where I ended up living in the Mission. One of my co-workers was a robust energetic middle-aged woman with remarkably little tact and an infectious playfully cantankerous manner.  She soon became a major guiding character in my early years in San Francisco. Her name is Georgia but I called her Jo Jo or Gay-org. She called me Pogo Dodo. She nicknamed people she was fond of with peculiar names.  Jo Jo delivered Gourmet gift baskets and groceries in a beat up truck that belonged to her friend and infrequently set up the produce. Her politics were extreme but she did so little about them I called her The Passive Aggressive Anarchist. She lived in the Mission in a very large railway flat that needed a roommate and I needed a place to stay.  The price was right and the room was very large. I moved in right before Christmas.
I’d often come home from work that December and find Georgia sitting quietly in the dark. Her long straight hair would be down and maybe hanging in front of her face. There might have been a candle or two burning. I’d peek in and just watch her staring with a faraway expression into the dark. It was eerie and disconcerting because she was so brusque and lively at work. She would come in and immediately annoy the owners spouting her opinions on how they should be running their business. The woman I found staring into the dark didn’t even come close. Once I found her like this with tears rolling down her freckled round cheeks. I felt compelled to ease whatever suffering she was going through. As I crept in and touched her she startled but acknowledged me. She told me softly and listlessly not to worry and that her odd behavior would pass. After a few weeks it did.  In fact she was feeling celebratory and it became her idea to have a Friday Happy Hours. My $8.00 an hour didn’t allow for many luxuries and it was getting near to impossible to afford my happy hour cocktails in the Castro so I could continue my search for a boyfriend.
One particular Friday we were swilling down Bloody Screws. This was  the classic Screwdriver made with freshly squeezed organic blood orange juice and vodka instead of regular juice. The rim of the glasses was covered in a fine demera sugar. Georgia’s taste in food was very fine. One wouldn’t know it to look at her with her torn corduroys and faded t-shirts but she was once a financially well off woman. Her father had been successful in the soda pop bottling business. She was dubbed the deposed Soda Pop Heiress by more than a few of us. The drinks were delicious and I was greatly enjoying a night off from rehearsal. I had my lines down and it had been a particularly challenging day at Porters. I wobbled over to the phone as it rang and answered it. Jack was on the other end.
Jack was antsy to share with me his back story idea of Austin and Ralph’s relationship. He asked if he could come over. “Just for a little bit P.A.? I promise I won’t be there all night.”
I put my hand over my eyes. “Oh I dunno Jack. I mean now’s not a very good time.”
“why?”
“Well…I’ve been drinking and I don’t think that would be an excellent condition for us to rehearse.-plus I was kind of looking forward to having the night free from rehearsal. Aren’t you happy with our progress?  You’ve ..given so much to the scenes and I have felt like I barely needed to do a thing!”
He was quiet. “I need you.”  He conveyed a sense of urgency, like he was in trouble. “I need this…to show you what I have come up with. Please PA – don’t make me beg”
Despite the alcohol dulling my senses, his tone began to override its affect.  The back of my neck prickled and my heart rate quickened. I needed him too. Well maybe not needed but more like wantonly desired. “ Oh …I…”-
-“ My sponsor isn’t available and I don’t think a meeting will do it” he blurted. 
I dead panned to some unseen audience in my living room “oh…but I’ve been drinking Jack. I’m drunk Jack okay? Drunk! Get it? “
“That’s actually perfect for what I want to show you.”
“Oh God…this can’t be right……grr…...alright, just give me a sec to …I dunno –brush my teeth or something..”
“Most EXCELLENT! –I am at Café Picaro ( the Café around the corner from where I live!) I will be there soon.
Dammit! I went to brush my teeth…and shower …and change into my sexiest pair of jeans.  I was in trouble but another Bloody Screw made me not give a damn.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Show-mance part 2

As the rehearsal period progressed I learned more about Jack than I ever wanted to know. Yes he was indeed straight. That alone sent me into a funk, because I was the guy that lectured to all my Gay brethren who had crushes on straight guys to get over it and move on because it was NEVER going to happen. I was even kind of militant about it. It was these sort of situations that lead to much danger. Sometimes it meant harm to one’s self in the form of a bashing  or the bigger picture was harm to the Gay Community as a whole painting us as recruiters.( Please remember I was in my 20s.)  I believed that there were self-actualized heterosexual men out there who were comfortable enough with other men on a physical level without it being sexually stimulating.  As much as I hated to accept it- I believe Jack was one of those men. 
Jack was also a recovering alcoholic. Back then I knew very little about addiction and how it worked but I DID know  I had no patience with drunks.  A few months earlier that year, I had figured out a very sexy muscle-bound construction worker who I had asked to move in with me on the second date, was consuming all my hard earned booze at an alarming rate. So I threw his belongings onto the sidewalk and changed the locks. The night before I did that, he and I gone to bed and I woke up at 2AM to find him MIA. He was tricking AND left my favorite cream colored Henley neck all cotton L&L Bean sweater at the trick’s house. As he walked through the door around 4 AM and greeted me with an intoxicated,” Hey Princess” I hurled my bedside lamp at him narrowly missing his temple. So no …I wasn’t an enabler. Hell I didn’t even give choices.
Jack used to be anesthetized by alcohol 24/7. He was now facing and embracing as much real life stimuli as he could. I often felt that I was spending time with a space alien in human clothing showing him how the world works. He wondered and marveled at the texture of my sweater, or the taste of noodle broth at the Chinese Store next door and the smell of urine on 16th Street like a toddler.  He was just as exhausting too. He talked a mile a minute divulging other people’s recovery stories and seeming to forget that AA meetings were supposed to be kept confidential.  He informed me his girlfriend was a porn star. I met her after rehearsal and her second rate vaguely tired Pam Anderson look confirmed this. I asked him how he felt about having sex with a woman who did it for a living. He was very appreciative because her knowledge allowed him to experience carnal pleasure in ways he never thought he could-or would for that matter.  He said there were sooooo many things he wanted to try now as he leaned into me… breathing noodle broth in my face. He planned on hiring a black lady hooker, (he was specific) and having sex with her. It was next on his list. “Gee. That sounds like fun.” I would say limply
In between this edifying conversation, we actually rehearsed the play with a very qualified director. He was not too hard on the eyes either. As for the rest of the cast, I could see we were ALL going to be great. One of them was purported to be a San Francisco Legend of sorts on stage. He was very sweet and lovable.  Unbeknownst to the rest of us he was suffering from the very, very early stages of Alzheimer’s.  It seemed when he forgot a line that there was more going on then we knew.  None of us would see it or know about his diagnosis until well after the play closed. We simply assumed that it was the rigors of memorizing lines with a brain that was nearly 70.  He played Ollie and his name is Robert.
The gent playing his husband I knew from my days of singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Francisco. His name was Robert too but we called him Bob to prevent confusion. Both of them seemed perfectly suited to their roles. Robert was the vaguely prissy house-wifely type and Robert was the tall gravel-voiced Daddy.  Another man in the cast played an older lecherous guest at the bed and breakfast. He was my character’s foil and we had great fun in a scene near the end of the play where he slapped my much sunburned back. It would send the audience into gales of laughter every night.  He helped me paint my sunburn on every night after intermission. The make-up was a type of pancake style actually called, “Sunburn” and was applied all over my face arms and legs.
My director had a strong grasp of the script and I felt safe with him at the helm. He was communicating by telephone with the playwright in South Carolina regularly.  Jack and I were beginning to flounder a bit with trying to make the couple seem like two men who genuinely  once cared about each other while trying to stay true to the script. Unfortunately, the script didn’t necessarily support that choice. Jack and I both desperately wanted the audience crushed that Austin and Ralph never worked things out. In my love-sick haze, I had forgotten it was a comedy and neglected to see in the script that Ralph was an A number one high riding BITCH!  Once I learned that - A star was born. The story really was about what a schmuck Austin was for not realizing it sooner. At the same time my yearning for Jack was beginning to override what was best for the show and I fought the urge to be the self-involved bitch that Ralph was clearly destined to be. I kvetched to anyone who would listen to me about what a boring choice Mr. Rawls (the playwright) had made in my character’s one dimensionality. “After all,” I would lament, “the whole reason we love Cheers is that we WANT Sam and Diane to realize they are perfect for each other, right? I didn’t sign on to be Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest!”  
Jack was hardcore in his pursuit of the character of Austin. He worked slavishly on a personal history for Austin..and Ralph…Lucky me.  He would hand me pages detailing our intense romance-including the type of love making they did. It turned out that Austin was a bottom.  You would think this would make me don my devil horns and make him fall off the wagon, so I could get some of his lovin. I couldn’t. If he became a full blown alcoholic then it might’ve jeopardized the whole production. Hey I had some common sense! (grin)  Still I was nervous about being completely alone with him and frequently declined personal time to work with Jack on our scenes. He was insistent that we rehearse outside of rehearsal. One night I had no choice.

Monday, September 27, 2010

An Actor has a Show-mance

16 Years ago I was in a play titled “Earl, Ollie, Austin and Ralph” at Theater Rhinoceros. It was one of my first plays produced at the rapidly fading Theater Rhinoceros.  I played the titular Ralph. My character was an acerbic New Yorker who had a problem. He had a wonderful boyfriend that he really wasn’t in love with. Instead of recognizing it and ending it sensibly; he turned into a wretched hate-filled queen destined to destroy his relationship with a loving, listening, and caring and hunky  man named Austin.

In the play the couple are on a  2 week vacation which becomes the lovable Austin’s inexplicable attempt to salvage the relationship. The car breaks down and they wind up conveniently at a  coast side bed and breakfast owned and run by an engaging elderly gay couple named Earl and Ollie who have been together for decades.

You’ll have to forgive me since I am doing most of this by memory, and not much could be found on the internet about this particular production. I do know that this charming,  albeit flawed comedy was a departure from Rhino’s standard “in-your-face” season.  Rhino had (has?) a tendency to provoke audiences rather than simply entertain. Adele Prandini was Artistic Director at the time and while she appeared scrappy and intimidating she was actually a big sensitive marshmallow. I respected her-and do to this day. She was one of the 4 or 5 directors in my bazillion years of doing theater that actually got me to genuinely act on stage instead of trying to make an audience laugh. (I can do both when paired with a director who knows how to handle me, but thats a rarity.)

At the auditions I had no idea what I was in for.  I had done very little acting in the city and had come dangerously close to giving it up entirely due to one very bad audition. It was for a musical so I chose the song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables “from Les Miserables. The phrase “at the lonely barricade at dawn” changed in my head to “at the lonely balustrade at dawn”. Somehow this struck me as enormously funny. Instead of focusing on the song I kept thinking, “what the hell is a balustrade?? I couldn’t finish the song and began dissolving into giggles and excusing myself while apologizing profusely for wasting all their time. 

Apparently my charm won out my talent and while I didn’t get asked to do that particular show- it lead to three more auditions.  One of those auditions garnered from that botched musical audition was for Glenn Rawls’ play “Earl, Ollie, Austin and Ralph”. My glossy 8 by 10 got shuffled in with 3 or 4 dozen other boys and we were all up on stage giving it our all two by two. The older couple seemed a sewn up deal because I saw only three other men who looked over 50 sitting watching the rest of us kids audition.

The material was a little out of my element. I hadn’t played a romantic lead since I portrayed Albert Peterson in “Bye Bye Birdie” in High School. (Seriously how romantic can Dick Van Dyke come across to most people?)  My area of expertise became the second banana. I got a little nervous as I rehearsed the final break up scene with another hopeful.  The actor I was reading opposite of wasn’t just pleasant to look at; he was fucking BEE-YOO-TEE-Full.  He had a stunning smile, killer abs, and huge shiny dark chocolate brown eyes fringed with lush black eyelashes. Now remember that I am merely in my late 20s at this particular juncture and was desperate to have a boyfriend in the big city. I –like many other boys like me in San Francisco-fell in love every half hour. As I read the scene with this fella,  I tumbled into that sweet torturous abyss.

The director had asked us to go run the scene in the hallway a couple of times and then come back and do it for him. Oh God! His name was Jack (not really... but for the sake of this blog it will be. According to Google he’s fallen off the planet but one can never be too careful.) He was a bit younger than me and as we traveled off to a remote corner of the hallway he enthusiastically chattered about how he thought the scene should play out.

They are breaking up but the best way to do this would be to play the opposite -right? Like the audience doesn’t want them to break up because we can see in Ralph’s face that he might be making a mistake...I mean ...you know ...if it’s okay with you”  

Normally I’d be annoyed that another actor was telling me how to interpret a script but I was blinded by his sexiness and my insistent urge to mate and nodded mutely and enthusiastically like a bobblehead.

He continued, “Like I’m thinking maybe they should touch each other  at the end of the scene-ya know? Like hug? or I dunno almost get to a kiss and think better of it.” I could feel my pulse quicken maddeningly. It got to the point that I almost forgot I was auditioning. Color was rapidly rising to my cheeks. He smiled. “ You like that idea?”

“ Yes -uh Yes - I think...it would be different from uh what the other guys are doing.”

Cool Dude. I soo like your style”I kid you not, he chucked me under the chin.

I think I simpered. Thankfully he wasn’t disgusted by it and continued to stage our scene. We read it and somehow the rational actor in me could see that this wasn’t really going to serve the writing. I didn’t care. All I cared about was somehow making Jack fall in love with me. NOW !!!!!  I believe my character was supposed to appear indifferent while his character was falling apart. Instead we re-interpreted to appear that HIS character was making one last attempt at seducing my character and almost -just barely-came very very close ...to succeeding.

He came up and stood very close to me glancing at the script and saying the line. He traced his finger across my cheek. I tried like hell to keep my knees from buckling. He eventually moved behind me with his large very strong looking hand on my shoulders and moving down to my chest. Firecrackers were going off behind my eyes and I thought I may lose consciousness as he pressed his very worked out body closely behind me. I could feel my hardening  Mr. Happy  trying like hell to unfurl in my bikini underwear and then the stage manager came through the double doors to the hallway and called out, “ P.A. and Jack?”

“ Yes Yes!! We are here!” I blurted suddenly and a little too loudly.  Oh that sounded nice...P.A. and Jack. Oh let’s invite P.A. and Jack! P.A. and Jack are so in love. P.A. and Jack have such the perfect life -why can’t we be more like them??? They are so glamourous and successful!  I swear you could see the hearts and doves circling my head as I entered the theater.

We got up on stage and played that scene for every tender moment we could wring out of it. Most of those tender moments were completely unnecessary. I looked longingly at him and he was beseechingly reaching out to me with every syllable. I could feel the electrical bolts flying between us and felt the back of my neck prickle. Wait.... was it great acting??? Um ....don’t think so. No. ...dammit ...not really. It was however magic of a sort and the director was moved. Before I knew it we were the last couple standing and it was announced that we were indeed in the cast.

He looked at me and grinned with those enormous and stunning white teeth and sparkly big brown eyes.


We walked out and he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. I was absolutely delirious and felt the heat of his lips on my cheek.  How the hell would I stay cool during the rehearsal period???  To fulfill my fantasies he offered to give me a ride home on his MOTORCYCLE. Shit - might as well have been a white horse on the curb!  He even had an extra helmet for me! I hopped on and wrapped my arms around him. I felt a little ticked off that I lived so close to the theater. He said, “ You can hold me tighter if you want.” Well of course.

Within minutes he brought me to the front  my flat on Guerrero and I handed him back the helmet. “Well...... see you next week” I said, all agog and wondering if I should kiss him right now. He grinned, “ See you next week P.A. This is gonna be great. We’ll have to get together and work on some backstory stuff. “

“Oh definitely!!” said the bobblehead. “Anytime Jack!! My schedule is WIDE open!!”
I can’t wait to get home and tell my girlfriend I am doing a Gay Play. She is going to freak!!!!” and with that he motored off.

I think I stood there for a while and then said, “ Wait...what? “ to no one in particular.
(TO BE CONTINUED)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rich and Famous


Richie Rich
When I was very young I wanted to be very rich and very famous. I used to pour through my Richie Rich Comic Books and fantasize about everyday items made of gold: combs, toothbrushes, and entire bathrooms. I loved the glitzy Liberace quality to Richie’s life. I also wanted to have blonde hair like him and have a butler who would make my life so much easier. I preferred my beagle, Murray  to Richie’s dog , Dollar- who was a Dalmatian with dollar signs instead of spots.
  In the 70s, I had an addiction to television and would rush home after school to watch seven hours of re-runs of kooky late sixties sitcoms. In order to fully enjoy the shows I always had a large stack of Saltines and a jar of crunchy peanut butter with a very large glass of Nestlé’s Quik to wash it down. (Don’t worry. It never spoiled my dinner.)  I would relentlessly stir the powder into the milk, experimenting with degrees of chocolatey goodness while getting annoyed with why Mary Ann didn’t dress more like Ginger, and when would Granny hire a chef and a maid at the Clampett Estate. 
Eva Gabor
One sitcom character who I related to particularly well was Lisa –Eva Gabor from Green Acres.  While I didn’t exactly have allergies to Hay, nor had I ever really seen a Penthouse view, I did indeed want to escape the beautiful green mountains of Vermont for the excitement of New York City.  It was quite a shock when I was 18years old, on a school trip to find that the glamorous Big Apple was a little rotten looking. Back in the 80s NYC weren’t too clean and it smelled just as bad as it looked.
You have to put into context that I was raised on very clean and very pure Vermont air-and anytime we went to a fairly well  sized  North Eastern metropolis my nasal passages would take a beating. Boston, Portland, New Haven-and Montreal  all of em were big ole stinky cities. Obviously I needed a high rise and a Chanel pocket spritzer.
I wanted to be a city boy in the worst way and I looked down my little nose at simple clean country living. I’d glare resentfully at my parents when they didn’t seem to understand that I obviously deserved the finer things in life….whatever they were. My father would just look at mother and would deny his paternity with, " You wanted to raise the last one." My Mother would stare into space and wondered what she did to deserve me. Why did I want so much? I figured out that I was just going to have to do it myself. I would become a world famous movie star and have a pretty kidney shaped aqua swimming pool and a gold toilet that I had earned from my zillion dollar contracts with 20th Century Fox and then later MGM.
Here I am 30 something years later. I live in an illegal mildewed in-law in the foggiest part of San Francisco.  I don’t own a car and I shop at Cost Co and  Ross….sometimes Marshalls.  In short I am monetarily challenged. I am only famous in the U-list sense of the word. I got a long climb to be a D-list celeb. Maybe if you are Gay and watch a lot of San Francisco local theater would you even have an idea the size of my “fame”.
Dene - 20 years ago KIDDING
Well I scotched all chances of fame and riches when I met Francis Ford Coppola. Maybe “met” isn’t the right word? I was in my 20s and was quite sure I knew everything that there was to know about …everything. I was conquering the West Coast by storm with my acerbic East Coast nature and sense of punctuality.  I had landed a job at a Gourmet Food store in the Castro known for being able to procure anything form an Ostrich egg to a rack of Yak. I had just moved out of my apartment between 17th and 18th on Guerrero leaving my passive aggressive anarchist fifty something female roommate and moved into my new apartment between 19th and 20th on Guerrero with my hip, cool, seriously, funny 20 something Gay male roommate. Together we were a young Gay male Laverne and Shirley and we were gonna do it our way- yes our way –makin our dreams come true.  The world was my oyster and I was ready to slurp it’s salty slipperiness right up! The new roommate’s name was (and is) Dene-pronounced Dean.
Yuck
Dene  is  fun fun fun  and he knew all the right people. He had scored us tickets to a radio show performance of Bram Stoker’s Dracula-as conceived by Francis Ford Coppola. ( The same script to be later made into a movie with an anemic Wynona Ryder and a particularly unsexy Gary Oldman)  This was all held at the world famous Hungry I Club on Broadway…. 
My error that night –as it was most nights back then-was having a warm up cocktail, or two. I can’t recall if we dashed into a bar there in North Beach or we tipped a few back in the Castro.  Regardless, we arrived to the Radio show  quite toasted, particularly yours truly. It seems FFC was offering tastings of his new wine from his new vineyard. How fortuitous and simultaneously tragic that I had just completed a course in Wine Tasting!!  A skittish little blonde let us in the Club and a sumptuous obscenely food laden table with a huge center piece of FFC wine lay directly ahead of us. I dashed toward it and filled my glass.  I glanced over at Dene who was piling a plate with shrimp and tomatoes topped with Mozzarella di bufala. 
Bigger Yuck
“ OH!” I choked and grimaced as I took a sip. “Dreadful! It has so many tannins in it that it is virtually UNPOTABLE !!! “  My volume increased and the skittish little blonde hovered shaking like a chihuahua nearby. “What was Coppola  THINKING? Quick where’s a white cloth napkin?” Somewhere in the back of my brain I felt someone was directly behind me as I snatched one from a nearby stack. Others were beginning to stare.  “ Here! Look at this. LOOK AT THIS!! There are NO gradations in color! “ I bellowed as I held the napkin to the wine glass. “ This indicates a complete lack of sophistication in it’s readiness” Whatever babble I had learned in wine class was getting put through the PA verbal meat grinder and getting ground into complete nonsense.
 Everyone around us seemed a little tense. Dene and I snickered at my silliness and then he decided to go find us a place to sit and watch the Radio show. I wondered if the great man Coppola was about somewhere. I gobbled another phyllo triangle and turned on my heel to walk right into the belly of this wall of a Bear standing far too close behind me. He was tall and wide with a salt and pepper beard and glasses. He stared down at me clearly annoyed. It infuriated me that HE was annoyed .  “LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING! You lummox!!” I barked. I spat out a few more choice expletives as I brushed phyllo pastry off my brand new shirt I had bought from HEADLINES. (It was a must for affordable fashion in the early 90s .)
I found Dene and  we sat down to watch these overzealous, excruciatingly earnest young actors perform the story of Dracula –for radio. It was too much for Dene and I to handle.  We giggled and pointed and eventually looked at each other and communicated in stage whispers that this was the worst thing we had ever been to and we had to leave. We assumed that they were all simply forsaking a decent job of acting just to get Coppola’s attention. “He’s probably not even here!” I slurred. Dene looked at me confused for a second.

As we made our way to the back, the skittish blond was near the coat room. We presented our tickets. She stood there appearing bewildered. I felt it was necessary for the wall to hold me up due to the tannin laden wine I had ingested. ( It was free- hello?)  She stood and blinked at us. “We’d like to go.” Dene repeated to her. “Go? “  What the hell? “ YES! GO! “  Her eyes grew wide as she shrank back from us  and dashed off to get the coats. She  muttered something about not counting on the fact that someone would actually LEAVE before the end of the show. Soon we were weaving down Broadway toward Kearney. Dene collapsed in laughter –uproarious un contained all consuming laughter. “What’s sho funny?” I asked as I tried to focus in on his shaking form.  He gasped out, “ I can’t believe you did that!”
“Did wha?” I asked and swayed
“ Called Francis Ford Coppola a Lummox after insulting his wine!!”  he giggled
….and that’s why I am not Rich or Famous…really.... that’s the reason.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Death Writes a Play


Summer has gone and Orlando and I are left with this feeling that we should’ve done something grand like gone away for a few days  to an exciting locale together- before the air temperature changed too drastically- or the sun moved too far from our patch of the planet called Northern California.
Eminent change is abundant these days.  We spend our days focusing on him to get a job here in the Bay Area. He has a decent paying job up North where he lives, but we both fully agree that his moving down here without something set up is a plan for disaster. I may have mentioned in other blogs, that he would prefer to live in San Francisco and I, on the other hand, would like to make a change. 
I don’t hate my Bagdad by the Bay, but lately it feels like a well used wash cloth to me that I have wrung dry.  My life ten years ago feels so far away and twenty years ago seems like ancient history. Being the Bay Area Cub has breathed new life into it, but there are memories all around me that I no longer want.
I want a new life with new exciting experiences. I want to begin my life somewhere ELSE as Mr. Cooley-De Jesus… (Or is it Mr. De Jesus-Cooley?) Not too long ago, I had set out to redefine my artistic interests. First artistic endeavors were spent in my childhood and high school years as an artist (watercolors)  and  later budding actor. I spent the first half of my adulthood as a semi pro actor, (with the odd legitimate professional experience), and now I needed a new creative expression. What began as a blog detailing my experiences as a The Bay Area Cub 2010 over a year ago has become an obsession.  I look back at previous blogs with chagrin  on my big plans of my Bearlesque troupe. – So much for that big dream

Disheartened with the enormous difficulty involved in producing Bearlesque, I have scaled down-considerably. Not only am I writing a daily diary for you all to read, I am also attempting to write the clichéd actor approaches-his-mid-life-so-he-needs-to-write-and-perform-a-one-man-show SHOW!  Barbra is right –Art aint easy.
What the fuck could I possibly talk about that would keep people in their chairs for 45 minutes to an hour? … Preferably not sleeping and listening with a rapt expression? Hell if I know.. Yet slowly the ideas are starting to trickle in. I think a lot about sex and death these days. Particularly Death. Currently I live in a house where a 79 year old man who lives above me is “completing his journey” as we say in the biz. It’s odd to not have his piss and vinegar personality stamping around upstairs. Instead I hear the soft tread of little Mexican and Filipino nurses. It’s a shame but you can never say a person DIED. I understand why but I never liked it.
During the daytime I work in an Eldercare facility and well…talking about death is part of my work. As you may have previously read in an earlier blog, my brother passed away when I was ten. That was my first acquaintance with losing someone I was close to but my thoughts about what death means and how affects all of us happened much later. I began thinking earnestly about the end of life a couple of years ago, when I lost someone who I cared about to cancer. He wasn’t too keen on dying. I am sure that most people aren’t either, but when there is no cure and you have been dealing with this ever-present feeling of helplessness about your fate …you go a little nuts with despair. He was getting fairly frantic and I wanted to alleviate his fears. To prevent my friend from sailing off the deep end, I felt he needed to have control over his life. I said he could die whenever he felt like it. He didn’t need to follow cancer’s time line. I had hoped that would mitigate his growing despair. You’re thinking, “Oh My GOD PA!!!”  well yes,  good reader,  many..Innocent people thought the same thing.  However- I knew my friend wasn’t ever going to kill himself. He didn’t have that kind of fearlessness. I just suggested it, so he could feel in control and grab back a little sanity. No one was going to kill anyone- but the cancer would surely have its day. The doctors were clear. 

My friend went back home that night and cogitated on this for a bit and re-translated it in his brain that somehow I was weary of him and thought that I had offered to hasten cancer’s task. So…my whole plan of helping him feel better went completely awry and my relationship with him blew up fantastically –taking down several relationships of our mutual friends with it. It turns out that a lot of other people got the heebie-jeebies from dealing with my friend’s mortality and they needed a witch to burn. Lucky Me!!! My brash-tell- it-like-it-is-nature earned me my own stake within our group with my poor friend waving the flames desperately. It wasn’t a pretty time for anyone-especially since he died without us resolving any of it.  Two grief counselors and some good psychotropics later, I got my shit together.  It took a while for me to realize that way before his diagnosis, he and I operated very differently.  I had mistakenly thought we had so much in common and our friendship was founded in love and respect for each other. It slowly revealed itself to be something I NEVER thought it was and well…it’s too late now and the only thing I can do now is take a deep breath and let it go…easier said than done…I assure you-but I take that breath often…Like once a day to be truthful. It’s been years. I think he would’ve turned 48 a few days ago had he lived.
After losing my brother to cancer over 33 years ago-AND on a recent visit home finding my family still grieving over the loss of him..I should’ve known that moving on past my friend’s death wasn’t going to be easy. A few months..Or was it a year ?...Drew (My best pal) and I had met with a woman at a bar who had become my friend’s Durable Power of Attorney during the course of his illness and wanted to give Drew and I our “inheritance”. We knew her well and we were so happy to see her. I was amazed to look down and see bag full of his treasured books. The bag had my name on it. It held some of Truman Capote’s works.  He was a huge fan of Truman and kind of fancied himself a modern day version.
She represented all these joyful times that we all spent together. I was remembering on the day of the funeral when she had clasped Drew to her and asked us back her house where we had all had such great times together. Tears that Drew had been holding back sprang to his eyes. She had that effect on people, of releasing the pain. I wasn’t entirely welcome at that service and Drew didn’t want to leave me alone-knowing I couldn’t go. Now he was battling his own demons when it came to his own grief for our friend. He rose bravely to my defense when a ringleader had formed to assist my friend in banishing me from his life.  I remember I was amazed at Drew's elegance and strength. Don’t trifle with this Diva! Drew had to be so strong for me that he neglected to tend to himself emotionally. When I made my way back to reality, he was allowing himself to experience the loss of our friend.  It was hard for him. The three of us spoke of him in soft reflection. I had many questions for her about what specifically caused his death and she gave a rundown of the coroner’s report. The report implied that his body had been too weak to go on. The last few days of it had been spent in alcohol fueled drama, so I naturally thought –suicide, but it was nowhere in the report.  He was found peacefully curled up in his bed like he was sleeping. She offered up the coroner’s report if I was interested. –There was a silent moment. Drew and I were focused on what she would say next yet not really looking at her. She said that she regretted he had died in despair. I took that in; the very thing I didn’t want him to feel.  How little control we have over everything. Despite my ease with the ugly and uncomfortable aspects of death, I squirmed in my seat. I didn’t get it right with him and there was nothing I could do now. I wanted him to be his irreverent self and laugh at death. I asked too much of him and listened too little. I tried in vain to remember all the wonderful times I had shared with him. I was so sure they were countless-but now they were tainted and felt falsely manufactured and not truly lived. It was if he was a dream and our friendship wasn’t real and now I have woken up. Rudely and Abruptly. That feeling has never left me.
When it gets bad I reach over to the Lando Bear and squeeze him … a little too hard…garnering a little laughing, “ouch!” but he knows why I am doing it because the expression on my face is always the same when I think about my friend. I wonder if leaving San Francisco will help. …I know better. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Remembrance

Some people manage quite well in this crazy world and others need a little help. Quite recently a cousin of mine needed a little help and didn’t really know how to ask for it –or couldn’t accept it? I guess we will never know. I was told by my mother that he had killed himself. I am surprised at this news. He was one of those people that appeared to handle most difficult situations easily. He sometimes was charming, definitely witty and interesting. He had a dynamite family and pretty much everything a guy could ask for. At least –that’s what I thought. I asked my mother not to tell me what method he chose to do away with himself.

   I am afraid to remember David because …. I may have felt like him once upon a time. When I remember David, first off …I am quite sure I recall finding him attractive. It wasn’t an easy attraction either. I may have been only ten or eleven at the time and completely naïve about my developing sexuality, but I think my feelings toward my cousin were of my first legit signs that I was hopelessly homosexual. At 17yrs old, David vaguely resembled Shaun Cassidy. Yes Shaun Cassidy-huge teen idol. Da do ron ron. 
Shaun Cassidy -Not My cousin


   He was long and lean with this lanky sandy blonde hair that moved a lot. He was extremely confidant with his body. I, on the other hand, was not even close. (That came much later in my life dear pic collectors.) My body was changing too fast and I was growing –everywhere. I was scared to take off my shirt because of the weight gain around my middle and the strange fur sprouting about my nipples. My skin on my face and shoulders seemed to be erupting angry little pustules everywhere.

   David was a flawless willowy tan and wore a genital hugging, deep green speedo swim suit . At the time, I’d never seen an actual Speedo quite so close-just bodybuilders on TV or French Canadians who summered in Vermont. I wore proper penis-concealing baggy nylon trunks. Like I said…that was a long time ago. In the summer David’s family would come from Illinois to summer with our Grandfather. It wasn’t too far from Lake Champagne, not to be confused with the legitimate Lake Champlain. Lake Champagne was not really a lake, but more of a fairly good sized man-made pond at a Trailer Campground.

  My Aunt and David and, I would head there every afternoon that the sun was out when it was warm-and some days when it wasn’t warm. We’d spread a soft large blanket on the grass. There wasn't a beach but there was a small mud flat for toddlers to play in. His mother, My Aunt Marian, a Lawyer and whip -smart by the way, would be deftly fixing us a little snack. David’s parents-My Aunt and Uncle, fascinated me for a many reasons. Aunt Marion was gracious and stylish and- like her son –died entirely too early in life. I remember she could make almost any baby smile and played the piano beautifully despite missing a digit or two since birth. Quite often I was transfixed. I would rudely stare at her hands and the way she quickly manipulated just about everything: smoking, knitting, driving, or making me a peanut butter sandwich -without showing the slightest bit of difficulty.

My Uncle was blind and a judge. (No jokes please) When I was very young,  I would lean on the arm of his big green naugahyde recliner while he tolerated me waving my little hands in his face asking for the umpteenth time if he saw them. He was in a chemical accident that kind of glued his lids shut and but there was a tiny space where the lids were open and I was childishly insistent that he could see a little bit. He was very patient in trying to get me to understand his blindness. He even showed me how he read in Braille. I asked him to translate the books all the time. If he was particularly generous with his time, then I would be allowed to stroke the fur of his gorgeous German shepherd guide dog. Her name was Sheila and she was so beautiful to me I couldn’t stop touching her. My parents and other family members were constantly reminding me that Sheila was often at work and couldn’t be interrupted. The more I remember about my Aunt and Uncle the more I realized that I genuinely loved them. I am not sure if they did this but I think they hung a little silly fake clock in my Grandfather’s kitchen that I find endearing to this day. It said Cocktails start promptly at 5:00 and the rest of the numbers on the clock face were all fives. It was there for decades.

The summer I was 12 years old, it seemed bizarre to me that such two nice people could create David. Was he spoiled? Possibly. David seemed to have no fear of his lovely parents and behaved as one would expect. He was very good at reducing me to tears. Of course I was an easy target, so there wasn’t much sport involved, but he did a decent job of crushing my fragile pre teen ego. Every time I would attempt to engage him in conversation on those sunny afternoons on the blanket, he shot me down with withering contempt that only a pretty Gay teen could, about my pale belly hanging over my trunks. I would hug my sweatshirt a little more tightly around my body concealing its ugliness from him. He’d say, “That’s better, I was beginning to get sick” The insult could be about anything really. He would snarl openly about my “disgusting acne problem” saying how my face resembled a badly made pepperoni pizza. My Aunt would admonish him sharply but it had no effect. She would sometimes ask me about some project I was doing. Making clothing for my trolls was my most favorite project. I loved those little plastic dolls with the aboriginal faces and wild neon hair that went everywhere. I made little robes for them with yarn belts. It was a subject I could chatter animatedly about for hours and my Aunt was always a willing listener. David would pepper it with groans and snorts of derision audible only to me, which eventually shut me up. If I admired something that he or his family owned, he’d snap at me not to touch it. He pointed out many times how poorly I was surviving my pre-teen years. My appearance was always a sensitive subject.

I guess he didn’t think I was that unappealing because he propositioned me. I believe I was 13 and at that point my sexual development was akin to an eight year old. I knew the mechanics of how babies were made but the all consuming voracious hunger to rub my naked body next to another male was not quite an idea in my head yet. Sexual desire for a male or a female or anything sexual was simply something I could NOT wrap my mind around. David called me into his bedroom. His tone was soft and different. He told me that he wanted to show me something. He proceeded to pull out magazines of black and white photos on newsprint. The pictures were of men and women having sex. The pages he pointed out to me were women giving blowjobs to men. He watched as my face opened up in astonishment. I asked him what was wrong with the men’s penises. Why were they so swollen and sticking out? Most of all what….. on earth was the woman doing? Why would they want to have a man pee in their mouths? This was all so horrifying to me, that I began to wipe my hands after touching the magazine. He tried to explain that’s what happens when a man is happy and feels good. Well THAT didn’t make any sense! He went on to explain that’s what happens when someone licks your penis and sucks it. He asked me if I would like to see how it works and would he like me to put his penis in my mouth? I froze in horror. “You’re kidding” I said. I didn’t want him to pee in my mouth!!!! I started to leave but he grabbed at me. No WAY was I going to let him pee in my mouth! I slipped through his grasp and ran to my room and barricaded my door with my dresser. He stood outside asking me in a somewhat shaky voice to forget about it and to please not tell anyone. –

  Hey I told you I was a late bloomer…Poor David. If he had just gotten to me a little bit later…things might have been very different. Years later, David’s long forgotten sexual advances came back to my memory when I was walking home from work. I was surprisingly angry about it too. I was angry at him and I was angry at myself for not defending myself better. I had wished I had inflicted some sort of permanent bodily harm on him. By this time, 29 years old, I was well acquainted with sexual desire and perhaps you are wondering why I didn’t give him a call, and ask him if he would like to resume the tutorial he was about to inflict on me at age 13. Most of it had to do with me figuring out he was taking advantage of a naïve boy he had tormented emotionally. I had seen too many very young people have dalliances with older people and come out of it emotionally crippled. Perhaps I was a little mad at David for all of them too.

There was another thing that was beginning to nettle me. David and my mother had struck up a sort of friendship. His Auntie Lois was quite taken with him and nattered away happily to me on a long distance call about their visit. She thought her nephew was the greatest thing since sliced bread. …….I couldn’t have that. It didn’t seem remotely fair to me that she got to experience the newly good, kind, sweet, David after what he had put me through. I actually showed some restraint and let my inner bile brew a few more phone calls but Mom was just too effusive one particular call about David’s charms. I chose to clue her in on what David had offered to do to her baby boy many years ago. She was silent and in proper New England fashion chose to ignore I had said it. That’s okay because I brought it up every subsequent time she mentioned David. It wasn’t too long before she figured it wasn’t conducive to a pleasant  chat with me about my cousin. If there is one thing my mother values most it’s a pleasant conversation with her sons. Except one day she had to. She prefaced it with, “Now don’t get upset!” I thought, “oh this is going to be good. “ It turned out that cousin David wanted to come out to San Francisco and have dinner with my brother and I. I was starring in a play at the time and “wouldn’t it be lovely if David got to see you on stage?”

Yes simply lovely

So it was arranged that my brother Peter and Cousin David would attend the matinee performance of “The Last Hairdresser” by Doug Holsclaw. In the play, the main character was a very angry unhappy little queen who took his anger out on others. His therapist taught him to control his outbursts of viciousness by saying to himself, “Naptime Bitch” I portrayed someone who didn’t do so great at controlling his outbursts of viciousness . Little did I know that I would stay in character throughout the dinner. I was not looking forward to any of this.

After a show,  Performers frequently come into the lobby to greet their friends and family after each show. My brother Peter and I had made arrangements with David to meet him after my matinee and grab a bite before I went on to do my evening. We chose a nearby  nearly empty Italian restaurant. As we sauntered over to the restaurant my own internal pot was beginning to simmer. David didn’t look the same –not as lithe, definitely older,  hair a little thinner. I knew I didn't look the same either and I was roughly 20lbs heavier than I should be. I fought any feelings of ugliness that tried to steal over me. We didn’t hug and rarely looked directly at each other- and most of all…he neglected to say a word about my performance.
 
Note to the theater going crowd: When you know one of the performers of a play you just saw, SAY SOMETHING about their work. Even if you thought the show was awful you can say how great they looked or my favorite, “Wow! What amazing energy! I was blown away. “Another one I like to say is “I saw you up there and ….(dramatic intake of breath)” I just couldn’t believe it!!” Feel free to use either. The actor or actress in question will be so jacked up on adrenaline that they won’t figure it out.

We sat quietly eating linguine and David said how he had been trying to reconnect with the family.

Lake Champagne

Lake Champagne
He had some nice memories of summers in the Center with family. I regarded him with an austere look and asked in a cold mechanical way, “So you had nice memories of hanging out with your cousins? What nice memories of us can you recall David?” He said mostly hanging out by the lake and going on explorations around the house. I remembered dim visions of hunting for frogs and traveling around an old creek and walking delicately through cow pastures to avoid the slippery green magma-like manure pies. Often times David would hide on me until I had become significantly frightened and then re-emerge from his hiding spot. I twirled my linguine on my plate continuing to stare at David. My brother Peter had good instincts and he began to try to steer the conversation to pleasant topics of wooded areas surrounding my Grandfather’s house.

I let my fork fall on to the edge of my plate with a small clatter. The restaurant was largely empty so I didn’t need to raise my voice. I said I didn’t have any nice memories of David. I have plenty of memories but they weren’t good. I remembered being insulted and made fun of and being belittled. Oddly - I omitted the part about his oral copulation proposition. I was met with silence from David and a small sigh from my brother.

David cleared his throat and ate his linguine. In an attempt to offer some levity and to change the subject he made some joke about being a “second string party B-Gay”. He didn’t sound amused, he sounded embittered. Something inside me told me to back down. (And I was wondering what kind of lettered Gay I was.) Some inner voice told me that it was time to say, “Nap Time bitch.” I had gathered from his monotone narrative that he had undergone a lot of trials and tribulations of late. He hinted at an issue of substance abuse and that lead to other … complications. I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him. I wasn’t hungry any longer but there was a great deal of food on my plate.

"Be careful what you say”, I thought. “Because whatever you are going through he has it worse.” The past few months I spent fretting about being a chunky Miss Lonely Hearts club member for the rest of my life. I was in a hopeless case of unrequited love with a sexy swarthy muscle-bound Australian in our cast whose own life was a bit of a mess. I had made the mistake of agreeing to let him hang out at my house one rainy night because he didn’t have anywhere to go. Stuff happened. Those complications seemed like such a Comedy compared to David’s full blown Drama.

No one spoke for a while and then my brother Peter gave a big stupidly goofy grin and said too brightly, “Well THAT was Fun!” Later we  said an awkward good bye and Peter drove off and left us alone for a minute. My animosity had reformulated to something else. Unfortunately it wasn’t exactly compassion, but something closer to pity. I couldn’t help him and I wondered what it would take to …help him. He didn’t stare at me hatefully. He seemed to accept my opinion of him and he exuded a calm but defeated attitude. I think he may have felt he couldn’t help me either. I asked it anyway, “You are going to be all right?” He said, “Sure” and sauntered down Folsom street in the direction of his hotel. I am still sensitive and still too concerned with what others think of me. Yet I am stronger than I was than that tween boy hugging his sweatshirt over his knees and belly over 33 years ago. Thanks David

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Weird and wacky world of Rideshare

White man in bright sunlight
 
I traveled up to the North Country to spend some time with the Lando Bear.  For the record, the trip is pretty arduous even though I don’t drive it. We have been dating for almost a year and a half and we have been lucky to have seen each other every weekend since we met with only a few exceptions.  It took a while for me to figure out how to travel from San Francisco to the Shasta County area- being a non-driver and all. In the beginning, I looked toward Greyhound for the most economical option.  Greyhound stops in every teensy tiny California Town on its way up North. It takes about nine hours.  I decided that was not really a good option for me to spend a majority of the weekend traveling on a not-so-clean bus with a bunch of people that looked like they had all just gotten out of jail. With my history with bad boys ….well it would complicate things. I strive to a more simple way of life these days…really I do.
By car, a trip to Anderson Ca from the Bay Area runs approximately a little over 3 hours.  You travel through the Sacramento Valley which features many versions of a long hot bug splattering stretch of road through the valley.  Eventually you hit a bunch of orchards of almost any fruit or nut you can imagine. In the spring –the blossoms are beautiful. Since Orlando owns a car he comes down to see me far more than I go up to see him. I feel a certain amount of guilt, but one long night on Shawn’s Rideshare cures me of all that. Shawn’s Rideshare is my salvation and my bête noire.
First off –Shawn is a good guy-a great guy actually. He has a folksy amiability that makes you trust him immediately.  He is polite and thorough, which I imagine comes from his military background. He seems to truly enjoy working with people and has a genuine curiosity about who you are what your life is like.  Shawn lives in Ashland Oregon with his wife and kids and works in here in Mountain View Monday through Friday. Most locals recognize the horror of that 8 to 10 hour commute but Shawn saw it as a business opportunity.  Shawn was specifically designed to do this drive, because he never seems to exhibit fatigue or for that matter appear to require sleep. (I envy that! I think of all the plays I could write and essays and  cookbooks !) On Friday evening  Shawn picks up all sorts of people from all sorts of economic backgrounds and lifestyles from all over the Bay Area and charges us a mere $45 to cart us up through the Capitol Corridor. (Not sure if that’s what it’s called when you DRIVE  it, but when you ride Amtrak  that’s what it is called.) Then on Sunday evening he does the whole thing in reverse from Ashland. His service is quite incredible and has been a Godsend to me when I first found it. He formed it because he recognized the need for such a service.  I also suspect that the enterprising lad found the commute a bit lonely until he hit upon this idea. Truly he struck gold because the demand for transport up north for us non-driving types far exceeds supply. I’ve told you about the hell of navigating via Greyhound but Amtrak is  a slightly less hellish way to do it. You take a scenic short train ride to Sacramento and then transfer to their bus service. The busses are clean and spacious. However you do deal with a long bus ride. The shortest I have ever done it train and bus is 5 and a half hours, but it can take 7 hours depending on which time you depart. Sometimes there is an hour wait in Sacramento. It’s near Old Sacto but you probably won’t have enough time to explore it by foot. I don’t hate it too much because most times I have the whole bus to myself for a couple hours. Most all the passengers get off it at Chico since most of them are Chico State students. That’s when I will lay down,  stretching my legs to the seats across the aisle without fear of blocking someone’s trip to the bathroom.  September can be a little rowdy with students on board but it gets mellower as the year progresses.  With exception of the roar of the bus engines, I find the trip somewhat relaxing. I doze, listen to books on CD, watch movies on a portable DVD player and try to write. Writing is far more difficult because of all the jostling about. I have to write in long hand on a spiral ringed notebook because I do not own a lap top. The dull roar of the engines sometimes comes through my earphones and that can annoy me. I looked into noise canceling head phones but those weren’t a sensible purchase for someone on a debt diet.   After doing this infrequent weekend commute, I have devised a method where I take Amtrak up in the afternoon and arrive early evening in Redding then travel back to the Bay Area on Sunday via Shawn’s Rideshare. This enables the Lando Bear and I to spend the maximum amount of time together.  This makes him very happy. I do enjoy making the Lando Bear happy. 
At one point I was doing Shawn’s Rideshare round trip. This did not maximize Lando/PA nuzzle time.  I would leave the Bay Area around 8:30 and arrive at Orlando’s at midnight. Unlike my hirsute honey, I require a strict 8 hours of zzzzzs. He and Shawn are cut from the same cloth when it comes to sleeping. I am old and doze off at 10PM. Orlando can party all night without the use of chemicals, sleep a few hours and bounce out of bed and do his grueling Power 90X work out. That concept is boggling to me.
  One of the greatest services Shawn offers is also one of the biggest reasons the trip can take a long time: his door-to-door pickups and drop offs. My primary complaint is that the rest of the passengers don’t realize that they are living in MY WORLD. I get a little grouchy when I remind myself of this at 1:45 AM while Shawn patiently navigates through the hills and tiny side streets of San Francisco to drop off the OTHER passengers. Usually I am at the end of the aforementioned drop offs and it is agonizing to be so near to my lovely cushion-topped extra thick mattress yet so far. Many times I am tempted to have him drop me off in downtown SF so I can catch a cab but hey – you do the math.  A simple cab ride from downtown to my house costs half of what Shawn charges to drive me for 3 hours from Orlando’s front door to mine. Yes I sit it out. I have a survival kit: A lusty historical fiction with an Irish Lass who makes a go of it in the 19th Century Tea business. My handi wipes that smell of Lavender and Chamomile, The Wordy Shipmates on CD by Sarah Vowell, My ipod, My travel pillow, and my Hall’s mango flavored mouth moistening lozenges with twice the moistening power.  Last night was easy. The two young men I wedged between weren’t smelly or grossly obese.( I have had some smelly encounters on the Rideshare so I also pack some natural scented bergamot and lavender water to spray as needed. It greatly helped a trip where a young man had accidentally gotten dog poop on his sneaker at the previous rest stop.) Regardless of my current rideshare buddie’s good hygiene,  the three of us were not comfortable being so close to one another. Closing my eyes and having my head accidently loll onto one of their shoulders was not an option.  I sat there rigidly for the next few hours listening to a movie I had seen with Lando last month that was playing on the small drop down screen in the van. I couldn’t even really doze. I put on my headphones and still had to listen to the movie whether I wanted to or not, because it was so loud and the screen hung directly in front of my face. Still I count my blessings on this trip and remember a previous one where there was a hippie who reeked of cigarettes and whiskey . He and I and a tiny quiet young woman had to squeeze in together cheek by jowl in the furthest smallest back seat together which really wasn’t designed for 3 people. Lucky me-I got the middle seat. He shifted and wriggled, tossing his braids about and grumbled the whole 5.5 hours, and to complicate things Shawn was doing drop offs  to Chico, somewhere outside of Sacramento, Berkeley and San Rafael before arriving to San Francisco. At every drop off the Hippie would leap from the car and greedily suck down a cigarette. This little scent sensitive cub had to endure the human ashtray the whole ride. My survival kit helped me endure it –last night’s ride was a piece of cake compared to that ride. Shawn’s rideshare is not suitable for people who don’t like to risk anything and cannot tolerate being uncomfortable for 4 or 5 hours. I once rode to Anderson jammed next to a lady in her 50s who said out of the side of her mouth to me in a low but declarative voice, “I am never doing this again.”  Since the options are few and far between, I suck it up and try to just go along for the ride.
Whiskey Town Lake
Lando does all the work
but he gets to play too
big cutie
Splash Lando Splash
Cutie Lando Bear
MMMMM Steak and Ice Cream
The Lando Bear has been feeling shorted lately because of the proliferation of his Bay Area trips. I think I manage to get up to his neck of the woods only once a month.  Heck we are both very tired of doing this trek. I can see that it’s not all that fun to sit in a car all by yourself for over 3 hours –sometimes longer due to loathsome traffic jams around the Sacramento area. What with the marriage storm whirling about us as we traverse each other’s personalities, and the strain of our arduous commutes,  we could both do with a lovely relaxing vacation….but that may not happen for a while yet. For now – we will appreciate those mini-vacations of a stroll through a fog ridden Golden Gate Park  and a lovely afternoon of kayaking and swimming in Whiskey Town Lake. Hopefully these little moments in time will solidify what’s already turning out to be a great relationship.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tigga PLEASE !!! A night of a 1000 Show girls thanks to Peaches Christ

Saturday evening was a busy one for the Lando Bear and myself. We rushed down to the Castro to catch the Beerbust for the Intersection of the Arts at The Edge. Rodney Clay aka drag hostess with the mostest, “Rhoda” ran into us on Friday Night and told us about it as he hurriedly trying to deliver posters and then head home to make jello shots to sell at the Beer Bust. You see Rodney doesn’t only look like a pretty version of everyone’s Aunt or Cousin, he is also an accomplished playwright! Since I am the Bay Area Cub 2010 who supports all fundraising for all theaters, I felt it my duty to support them. I was also pleased to see that Rhoda was also hosting it with one of my Bearlesque Bears, Bo Hoshaw. As Lando and I dashed out to catch the Limo aka the 36 Teresita he asked why I wasn’t wearing my title vest. I said that I would rather be P.A. Cooley, local performer, then the Bay Area Cub tonight. I chose one of my favorite Graphic tees that was silver and black and a pair of washed-out faded jeans that I had inherited doing a One Act years ago. Rhoda mouthed a “Thank you” at me as we entered the Bar. We imbibed some Pabst Blue Ribbon and did a Jello shot and purchased raffle tickets. A quick shout out to all you people looking for a good place to host a fund raiser -I strongly suggest The Edge. Terry the Manager will definitely treat you right.
Alan Quismorio , artistic director of the Asian American Theater was also there because he kind of has his iron in several fires. Intersection of the Arts is one of his many fires. Alan and I had worked together in Ronnie Larson’s A Few Gay Men. (He played my wife, my Orthodox Jewish Wife, and mother of my four sons. Alan is a diminutive Filipino Man. Aint Theater Grand? ) We didn’t have time to see if we won anything on the raffle because we had to dash off to Peaches Christ at the Castro Theater for “ Night of a 1000 Showgirls.

Peaches Christ is a SF Drag Legend when it comes to Midnight Cult Films. This evening’s gala was at the Castro and I think she typically operated out of The Lumiere but earlier in July it was at The Bridge theater. She’s been doing this a long time and she is officially a big deal. She even has her own movie trailer where bats fly out of her kaslopuss.  It started many years ago- possibly almost 20-where she hosted a Midnight Rocky Horror flavored evening of cult movies. ( I tried to find the actual anecdotal history of it’s creation on her website but couldn’t locate that info.)

Note to Mom, you may wish to stop reading this.

Luckily for us my new friend Chuck Chou was saving a place in line for us for the show. I never had been to a Peaches Christ event and was wondering if tonight was going to be typical of what she did. Chuck knows his Peaches and is a big fan. This was a special event I was assured by him. I was a fan of the movie Show Girls and wondered if Orlando had ever seen it. Luckily he hadn’t seen it. For those of you who by chance were unfortunate enough to miss it –allow me to give you a quick summary. Nomi Malone (Saved by the Bell’s Elizabeth Berkley) is a shapely lovely tough chick who is hitching her way to Vegas to become a dancer. It has a bit of an All About Eve thing going on as we watch her rise to stardom, sleeping her way to the top-amongst other things. The film is downright appalling. It is so truly horrifying in its badness so that you will likely NOT forget it-ever! It has fallen the way of Mommie Dearest due to the terrifically over-the-top acting. For the queens who are faint of heart at the live female form be warned. There is an awful lot of Ms Berkley’s poontang on view. Just to give you a flavor of the type of film it was, here is a review from Roger Ebert
The film is not, in short, quite unredeemably bad, and despite its NC-17 rating, it isn't anywhere near as perverted as "Basic Instinct." The actors throw themselves into it with the abandon that material like this demands, and Verhoeven brings to it the same skill he once lavished on good movies, like "The Fourth Man" and "Total Recall." It's just that you can't believe a single second of it, and you do begin to wish that in his research for his next project, Eszterhas makes it his business to learn something about eroticism.Showgirls" is such a waste of a perfectly good NC-17 rating.
  
   So these big names made a bad but entertaining film. Many reviewers called upon Joe Esterhaz’s (screenplay) fear of women. They all have knives in nearly all his films and they usually enjoy a little Lesbo action. Nomi loves her switchblade and I am sure has had her fair share of fur pie. I was informed during the show that Show Girls was the last NC-17 rating ever given to a film. It was also (Ta DA) – the films 15th Anniversary. Peaches has been doing this party for 13 years. We were first treated by PC’s own film trailer where bats flew out between her legs and her eyes had an evil red glow. Then another trailer for a movie Peaches was in called All About Evil. It looked like a good scream. Then Peaches –all Show-girled-out came on stage with her fun dancers and did a number. Then her sidekick Mar-tiny joined her to perform some prerecorded-lip-synched scenes. The voices were of Peaches and Martiny. A joke was made earlier about Martiny actually rehearsing the bit. Apparently that was an uncommon occurance. Good thing she didn’t have lines to memorize. Martiny is the perfect foil for Peaches larger-than-life glam persona. After listening to Martiny’s pre-recorded listless, flat delivery and inability to do more than one body position, I began to wonder. Where had Peaches found this little…person? Martiny gave off the vibe that she had never worn drag or ever set foot on stage. I felt as if Peaches had plucked a heterosexual dweeby library employee and said “Hey, You want to spice up your nightlife?” Peaches gleefully poked fun at Martiny calling her the most tragic drag queen on earth. I thought “drag queen” was pushing it a bit.

My new facebook friend Drag make-up artist, Cousin Wonderlette made an appearance in a dance number as her ghastly vision of a Showgirl. I couldn’t see if she had done the inbred Hillbilly girl look she favors on her face since I was so high up in the balcony, but her body suit was great. A nude suit complete with a vagina that looked like it was on the verge of becoming a prolapsed uterus. She had a tiny tiny tiny little gold skirt that didn’t do a damn thing to cover those protuberant vaginal lips. During the Nomi Look alike contest –Modest Super Star Heklina pointed out she had a little problem down there. By the way the winner of the Nomi -Look alike contest was a bio girl. Heklina and the other judge Lady Bear iced the astonished girls nipples (as was done in the movie) right there on stage! Hey she shoulda known what she was getting herself into. I thought Heklina was gonna catch hell from the trannys for choosing a real girl as the winner but she diffused them with a cool version of “Get over it.”
So this event was billed as the Night of 1000 Showgirls and we had a lot of show girls -and Peaches introduced every SINGLE one of them. I am not sure exactly how many we had but I would say she had about 75. Bambi Lake who is a local SF legend for reasons I have forgotten appeared as one of the lap dancers. She had a little problem with knowing when to exit. She also had a little problem with appearing to know where the hell she was. This was from Peach’s website.
“And whether we like it or not, legendary local icon Bambi Lake showed up and got onstage, gave lap-dances, and exposed us all to her rack. In true Bambi form she left the event in a rage, demanding I pay her for said unsolicited services, cussing Heklina out for no reason, and then blowing kisses and waving goodbye from a cab. It was a night to remember!”
I can’t wait to see Lady Bear’s video footage of that! As I saw all the lap dancers on stage I said to Orlando and Chuck that I wanted “Tigga Please” to me my Lapdancer. It was a man dressed in a Tigger Costume -if Tigger lived in inner Harlem. I was way up in the Balcony so my chances were pretty slim that “Tigga” would be giving me a lap dance...well I was wrong. Tigga nearly killed himself going over the edge of the balcony rubbing his plushy orange butt in my face! I was more than delighted.
Martiny with Peaches

Icing the winners nipples

Nomi's Revenge Nail

Tigga Please gives me the business

HELP There's a Tigger in my face
Bambi Lake
After all that Hullaballo we settled down to the earnest watching of Show Girls. A Quieter than usual crowd but there were a few humorous lines shouted out. I recognized Leigh Crow's melodius Tenor from time to time. Orlando was astonished and horrified and greatly amused. The writing was dreadful. The acting horrendously surreal. All in all Fun Night at 5 hours long -and Peaches...if you ever need a judge for “Heathers” -Call me. I was without a doubt - the meanest Heather in my high school.